Breezy Point Acquires Deacon’s Lodge Golf Course – (Yes…That Deacon’s Lodge)
By E. Nolan
Wait… What? As in THE Deacon’s Lodge? The lake-laced tree-lined rocking and rolling Arnold Palmer design in Brainerd? The #2 Golf Course on GolfWeek’s Best in State for Minnesota? That Deacon’s Lodge?
Yes. (See Title) That Deacon’s Lodge.
Well, this is big news! Bigger than big! How often does one of the best courses in the state at one of the greatest resorts in the entire country (Grand View Lodge) transfer its flagship course to an in state “rival”? Not very often. But it makes perfect sense, in this case, for both resorts, and it greatly benefits the future business of Breezy Point Resort.
Deacon’s Lodge is indeed one of the very best golf courses in the state of Minnesota. But what makes it a perfect fit for Breezy Point is not just the amazing quality of the experience, but the physical proximity. Just marginally north of the landmark water tower of the most middle-class friendly resort in Minnesota, Deacon’s Lodge is a step up from what was already an elevated desti-cation site in most minds. To find out more about what this all meant we sat down with (albeit in different vehicles) the affable General Manager (Dave Gravdahl) of Breezy Point for a little Q&A. Ever the friendly soft-spoken conversationalist, his passion for his resort, and this acquisition was transparent through the phone. (Yes, that’s possible.) Here is a sampling of the conversation:
Eric Hart: Wow!
GM Dave: Yes.
Eric Hart: Big News! When exactly did this go down?
GM Dave: Just before the New Year.
Eric Hart: Happy New Year! Heck of a Christmas present for you… Heck of a package to find “under the trees!”
GM Dave: (Laughs) it’s been a long time coming. We’ve wanted this property for quite some time. But business like this has to be done right, and we so value our relationship with Grand View… and they were spectacular managers of Deacon’s… that we wanted to make sure everyone was as happy as could be with the entire process. Our relationship was far more important than the acquisition. (He means that.)
Eric Hart: That’s always been one thing that has so impressed me about you. You always put the people first. Not just at your resort with your thousands of guest, but in all your relationships, even with your competitors.
GM Dave: I’ve been in this business a long time.
Eric Hart: And you’ve done it right for a long time. Breezy Point was already an in demand destination in Minnesota. Every time I’ve been up here it’s been packed and thriving. Why add Deacon’s Lodge to the mix?
GM Dave: Deacon’s Lodge is about as good a course as there is in this state, which I know you know. We’re well aware of what our neighbors can offer, and we feel this (acquisition) puts us on equal footing, head-to-head, with anyone. We now can offer three very different levels of golf to every guest.
Eric Hart: Do you anticipate making any major changes to Deacon’s Lodge, personnel or construction wise?
GM Dave: Not at all. Why would we? Deacon’s Lodge is successful, in large part, due to the incredible people who have been there and created the foundation for its success. Mark Neva will continue as head pro, and we’re blessed to have him. Ed Thomas will also continue as Superintendent, and given the huge task he has with that magnificent course, and the brilliant job he’s done elevating the conditions year after year, we are just as blessed to have him continue on with us.
Eric Hart: Mark has always been one of the best conversationalists, and the perfect person for that course. I couldn’t agree with you more on that point. You definitely have people in place who aren’t content to rest on their current successes. And what about the course itself? Any changes or modifications coming there?
GM Dave: We’ll always keep an open mind. But Deacon’s gives us a world-class golf course we didn’t have before. We obviously hope we can make it better than it’s ever been, but there are thousands of golfers in this state who have never even played it. Our primary goal is to get those people, and our thousands of annual resort visitors on the course. As many of them this year as possible.
Eric Hart: That shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t believe there is a more varied, high quality collection of holes on any one course in the entire state. There’s only one hole on the entire course I don’t like (#14) and I’m pretty picky. I can’t say that about any other course in Minnesota. And I’ve never seen it in better shape than the past two years.
GM Dave: I appreciate that. And I agree (on the condition). Arnold Palmer did a fantastic job with the design. Many people aren’t even aware that Arnold has a “Palmer’s Best 18” of holes that he has designed, and Deacon’s #17 is one of those holes. It’s a beautiful Par 3 hitting right towards the lake.
Eric Hart: I love that hole at sunrise with the hovering fog/mist… and in the evening with the loons on the lake behind it. Definitely one of the best holes in Brainerd. Deacon’s seems to be the perfect complement to your other two courses.
GM Dave: Yes. Now we’ve got something for everyone. We’ve got the short and tight Traditional. The weavy wavy White Birch that’s always been a local favorite, and now a contender for “King of the Lakes” area.
Eric Hart: So, if you had to sum it all up for me in a sentence…perhaps as a pitch to golfers in the state of Minnesota, what would you say?
GM Dave: Whether or not you’ve been here before, we’re better now than we’ve ever been. Come on up. We’d love to have you!
It was an awesome interview, from one of the most revered men in the area, and he hit so many nails on the head with his words. His affection and appreciation for his fellow area General Managers has always been admirable. He doesn’t want to compete. But he always wants Breezy Point to be competitive. A pretty unique, and cool, distinction.
Breezy Point already was the ultimate family resort. It’s right on Pelican Lake. It had two golf courses of completely different design. They have multiple lodging and dining accommodations. They are known for their lakeside entertainment, which includes cover bands 6 nights a week, and the ever-popular Memories of Elvis, Sinatra and Johnny Cash features. And now all of that has gotten that much sweeter with the addition of Deacon’s Lodge. We learned they’ll be renovating the Deacon’s Lodge clubhouse shortly, and restocking the already enjoyable menu there. And they’ve added new “Stay, Play & Save” packages, to include their “new” destination, both remarkable in value. There’s the 1-night Deacon’s package, with golf, lodging and breakfast, or the 2-night package offering the same elements in duplicity.
As Dave mentioned, they’re appealing to everyone this year to come on up and see what’s “new” or relive what you’ve always enjoyed at Breezy Point. Dave mentioned (what we noticed on our visit) that last year the golf courses were so busy they actually had to turn golf business away. That’s a great problem to have in this industry, but even that problem should no longer be one, as this year Breezy Point has another 18 holes to re-direct golfers to. If those re-directed golfers are anything like me, they’ll be grateful for the opportunity to play so great of a course so close to such an entertaining lodging facility. Always great, but now better than it’s ever been. That’s saying something!